Rapids on the Grasse River in Spring

This image is my submission to the Spring Photo Contest being run by Grasse River Heritage; the river and its associated park are its subject. I delight in being asked to work under requirements—in this case, both a subject and a time of year—because I feel it focuses me. I get to achieve something specific, which adds some delightful pressure to flying my quadcopter around the island.

Rapids on the Grasse River in Spring

Larry’s View

The most senior faculty member in St. Lawrence University’s Department of Chemistry is preparing to retire and I selected this image to present to him. (Shhh, keep it a secret for a few more days.) He often looks out from Johnson Hall of Science, the building in the foreground, north towards the older parts of campus (like the chapel spire above the horizon.) In this image, I hopefully captured for him both where he stands and what he sees so that he can take them with him when he goes.

Larry's View

The Cell

Over the course of the past two years, I’ve used OpenSCAD to design a gas/vacuum cell that can support a pressed silica nanoparticle pellet in front of a variety of spectroscopy systems. The core of the cell was 3D printed in aluminum by Shapeways, with some subsequent facing on our lathe to get good seals with the O-rings. This first version is designed to fit into our fluorimeter.

The Cell I

After using the first cell for a year, I realized I also wanted to be able to attach it to a fiber-optic-based spectrometer. Here, you can see the second cell attached to our Schlenk line.

The Cell II

Schlenk Line in Development

This is my Schlenk line; there are many like it, but this one is mine. The double-manifold design allows my students and me to expose samples to either vacuum or inert gas (argon, in this case.) Every line has little tweaks and customizations made by the scientist using it, and is thus inevitably a work-in-progress. This particular line very much needs a full-time vacuum gauge as its next addition.

Schlenk Line in Development

Richardson Through Trees

The classic winter picture of clean, fresh snow and bright blue skies seems much easier to come by, ironically, under less-wintery conditions near the beginning or end of the season. Under the snow at the edge of the patch in the foreground, you can see that the grass is still green.

Richardson Through Trees

3D Printing Materials

In addition to photography, I’ve been exploring 3D printing in the past few years. I’ve found that it’s a great route to making small objects to support my science work. In this case, I was developing a holder to support a 12.7 mm pressed solid sample pellet inside the space normally occupied by a 10-cm pathlength liquid-handling cuvette. The result is this odd rectangular shape that unlocks to hold the “too wide” pellet diagonally—thanks, square root of two!

In these forms, I was working with a variety of materials, including glass-reinforced nylon, lost-wax-cast brass, and a bronze/steel powder combination.

3D Printing Materials

Science Side of Campus

There are plenty of historical reasons (including the original St. Lawrence University’s acquisition of the adjacent agricultural college), but the clustering of the school’s STEM-focused buildings on one side of campus—the arts/humanities at the other extreme and most of the social sciences in the middle—has resulted in a literal mapping of the academic spectrum onto physical space.

Science Side of Campus